The recently-launched digitization project PopUp Archive hosts a great selection of Studs Terkel audio. The site’s archive of interviews comes from Terkel’s 1952-1997 radio show, “The Studs Terkel Program,” on the Chicago station WFMT.
While Terkel is famous for interviewing everyday people for his oral histories of the Depression, work, and World War II, and his radio show featured its fair share of students, domestic workers, and veterans, this particular archive is full of big names: Actress and comedian Lily Tomlin. Literary theorist Edward Said. Actor and activist Sidney Poitier.
A short trip into the interviews reveals Shel Silverstein telling Terkel the story of his as-yet-unpublished book Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back, in a rapid-fire Chicago accent. Terkel interviews the photographer Diane Arbus about the Depression, trying in vain to elicit any memories at all pertaining to financial stress. (Even Terkel couldn’t win them all.) And an interview with James Baldwin is punctuated by the unmistakable sound of a Zippo lighter in use.
Currently, there are about twenty audio files available, and the archive promises more to come, pending digitization and the clearing of rights. (Let’s hope they hurry up! Some of the placeholder entries for not-yet-available interviews—Buckminster Fuller, Margaret Mead, Arthur C. Clarke—are most tantalizing.)
The one downside to this archive is that you can’t download the interviews—a potential drawback for addicted podcast fans. However, if you have a smartphone and a good data connection, it’s simple enough to listen to the files straight from your phone’s Chrome browser.
Above you can listen to Terkel interview a young Bob Dylan in 1963. The remaining parts of the interview can be found here. Note: The Dylan interview isn’t actually in the Pop Up archive. But it is another one of Terkel’s legendary interviews. So we wanted to add it to the mix.